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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

May 22, 2015  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

New Bryan Glazer Family JCC poised to make mark on Tampa, Jewish world near and far

¦ Related story, Page 5
By BOB FRYER Jewish Press


The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Jewish Community Center in West Tampa: (L-R) Tampa JCC & Federation CEO Gary Gould, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, State Sen. Jeff Brandes, State Rep. Dana Young, Shanna Glazer, Bryan Glazer, U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, Hillsborough County Commission Sandy Murman, Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen and JCC Executive Director Jack Ross. The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Jewish Community Center in West Tampa: (L-R) Tampa JCC & Federation CEO Gary Gould, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, State Sen. Jeff Brandes, State Rep. Dana Young, Shanna Glazer, Bryan Glazer, U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, Hillsborough County Commission Sandy Murman, Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen and JCC Executive Director Jack Ross. The new Bryan Glazer Family JCC complex is expected to have a big impact on the surrounding West Tampa neighborhood and is seen as a key project in spurring a makeover of the city of Tampa. It is also attracting national attention as an innovative model for other JCCs to emulate.

The transformative nature of the $26 million project was touted by many at a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 11 at the historic Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. The event marked the renaming of the facility in recognition of Bryan Glazer’s $4 million donation to renovate the armory and turn it into a new JCC facility.


Bryan Glazer, co-chairman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his wife, Shanna, in front of the newly unveiled logo for the JCC, currently under construction at the former Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. 
Photos by Amy Martz Bryan Glazer, co-chairman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his wife, Shanna, in front of the newly unveiled logo for the JCC, currently under construction at the former Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. Photos by Amy Martz Glazer, co-chairman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, cited the armory’s long history, not just as a military facility, but also as the venue for years of televised pro wresting matches, the site for speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy (four days before his assassination in Dallas) and the stage for concerts by the likes of Pink Floyd, the Doors and Buddy Holly.

He noted that Elvis Presley played at the armory five times and was not even the headliner for his first show. Then Glazer held up a copy of Presley’s debut album and pointed out that the album cover was a photo of Elvis playing at the armory.

Glazer, who got married last month to Shanna Rosenbluth, said he was on board with the armory/ JCC project right from the start, recalling some of his childhood JCC experiences and saying he would like his future children and others to have similar experiences as well at the Glazer JCC.


The press readies for President John F. Kennedy at the armory on Nov. 18, 1963, four days before he was assassinated in Dallas. The press readies for President John F. Kennedy at the armory on Nov. 18, 1963, four days before he was assassinated in Dallas. “This area needed a spark,” Glazer said, pointing out that the new center will not be just for the Jewish community, but for everyone and that the center will become an integral part of the West Tampa neighborhood and of the local Jewish community.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn noted that the armory, which opened the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, has a rich history as a vital part of Tampa, then asked the audience to close their eyes and “Think of Tampa’s next chapter and the role this building will play in the amazing transformation of our city. … the transformation of a neighborhood that happens right here on Howard Avenue and stretches through north Hyde Park to the Hillsborough River, and that river becomes the center of our urban experience, anchored on the western edge by the JCC.”


Jack Ross, JCC executive director, in the armory as it is today. Renovations began in late 2014 and are expected to be completed next year. Jack Ross, JCC executive director, in the armory as it is today. Renovations began in late 2014 and are expected to be completed next year. He noted other projects – the Waterworks, the transformation of the old downtown federal courthouse into a high end hotel, and what Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik plans for the Channelside area – as other keys to transforming Tampa.

“This is the beginning of something special,” Buckhorn said, “The beginning of what Tampa will look like in 10 years – Jews and Gentiles brought together for a common purpose. … this is for children who might become casualties of the streets but now will have some place they can come that is safe, where they can learn and be embraced, where they can have a better shot at life.”


Bryan Glazer shows Elvis’ debut album. The cover photo was taken at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory on July 31, 1955. Bryan Glazer shows Elvis’ debut album. The cover photo was taken at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory on July 31, 1955. “I grew up swimming in the pool on Horatio [Avenue],” said Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen, recalling days years ago when there was a JCC in South Tampa and looking forward to next year when the Glazer JCC, including an aquatic center, opens.

While others spoke of how the JCC project would be transformative for West Tampa and in terms of the city’s development, he spoke of it in a purely Jewish context. “More than two of three Jews are unaffiliated or disaffected from Jewish life. This project will change that,” he said.


Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman addresses 175 invited guests at the groundbreaking event. Among the political figures in the audience were former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, Tampa City Council members Guido Maniscalco and Mike Suarez, Hillsborough County Commissioners Al Higginbotham and Kevin Beckner, and state Rep. Janet Cruz. Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman addresses 175 invited guests at the groundbreaking event. Among the political figures in the audience were former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, Tampa City Council members Guido Maniscalco and Mike Suarez, Hillsborough County Commissioners Al Higginbotham and Kevin Beckner, and state Rep. Janet Cruz. When Cohen grew up the JCC and its pool on Horatio Avenue were near other Jewish institutions and the area was at the center of Jewish life in Tampa. Then a shift in demographics triggered the Tampa JCC & Federation to move to a 21-acre campus in the Citrus Park area in the 1990s. But when a newer demographics study showed South Tampa once again had the area’s heaviest concentration of Jews, there was new interest for a second JCC. When the opportunity to renovate the armory came along, a fundraising campaign began.

Currently that fundraising campaign has netted $19.4 million in pledges, which includes public and private dollars.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor commented on how she sent her kids to the South Tampa JCC Preschool and that it will be good to have a new, larger preschool open at the Glazer JCC.

While noting the armory’s “colorful history,” she said, “It has sat vacant for far too long.”

The facility closed in 2004 and was boarded up and in a state of disrepair. Although the May 11 event was billed as a “groundbreaking,” actual construction began in late 2014 including replacing the leaky roof and removing the panes in preparation for restoration. Since the building has an historic designation, all renovations have to maintain the integrity of the original facility.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman said the Glazer JCC will be “a catalyst for change” and said it seemed that “Jeff Vinik has given us the redevelopment bug, and it has certainly hit West Tampa.” Vinik, and his wife, Penny, who both attended the ceremony, have made the second largest donation to the JCC of $1.5 million.

“We’re going to turn [the armory] into what I honestly believe will be the most innovative and extraordinary JCC in the nation,” said Tampa JCC & Federation CEO Gary Gould.

Calling the naming ceremony a “milestone moment,” JCC Executive Director Jack Ross said that the project has drawn national attention from other Federations and JCCs, including the national JCC Association in New York City.

When that organization learned of plans here, the association’s vice president, Dori Denelle, sent a letter to Ross.

“In an environment of limited resources,” Denelle wrote, “nonprofit organizations are looking for opportunities to leverage facility, staff and financial resources through collaboration and cooperation … In reviewing the model the Tampa Jewish community has underway, it is clear that you are developing a facility that can be financially sustainable, missiondriven and community-centric.”

The new Glazer JCC represents an innovative plan for financial sustainability and introduces a new approach to enhancing the quality and quantity of member services and programs, Ross said.

Elements of the new model for operating the JCC include:

• Multiple Revenue Streams: In addition to the traditional sources of revenue such as membership, pre- and after-school tuition, camp fees, special program charges and ongoing fundraising endeavors, there are a variety of revenue streams to ensure financial sustainability. This diversification will increase operational revenue through the following:

• Third-party lease tenancies: Potential tenants include Tampa General Hospital, the Arts and Cultural Department of the city of Tampa, Tampa Jewish Family Services, and Hillel Academy of Tampa.

• Event center activity: The new JCC will have a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen and space to host events varying in size from small groups to up to 750 people for a sit-down meal, or even 1,700 if an outdoor tented, air-conditionable area is also used. It is anticipated the event center will hold a minimum of three events a week including weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and corporate functions, not to mention Jewish community events.

• Cultural revenue and more: In addition to traditional arts and culture programming that will be offered at the Glazer JCC, an Innovation Center will also be created. The center will host Israeli start-up companies that wish to transfer their enterprises to Tampa. Companies chosen will receive a relocation grant and be housed at the JCC in exchange for a small equity stake in the venture upon success.

Another revenue stream will be the same as at many other JCCs. The Glazer JCC will outsource its aquatic and fitness facilities operations. Though a company has not yet been selected, it is expected to be a profitable venture for both the JCC and the vendor.

In addition to support from Bryan and Shanna Glazer, the state of Florida, Hillsborough County, city of Tampa, and the Viniks, scores of families and individuals have made private donations. Some of the families who made significant contributions who participated in the groundbreaking were: Diane, Leon, Todd, Shari and Lee Mezrah; David Scher and Sara Golding Scher; Jan, Michael and Ashley Wuliger; David, Nancy, Sam and Stacie Linsky; Chrisi and David Laxer; Lynne and Fred Merriam; Aydin and Barbara Keskiner; and Jeffrey Berger.


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